Using Instax Mini in medium and large format cameras - plus hand developing Instax film

The image above may tell you all that I've been up to lately.

The thick white border at the bottom is a chemical pack. The narrow format indicates "mini." Yes, my dear Watson, he has been using Fuji Instax Mini instant film in his 6x6 Yashica twin lens reflex camera."

I learned how to get film out of an Instax Mini pack from the video below.

I don't have a darkroom. I have a bathroom. But loading the Yashica at night worked.

The real problem ended up being development. In the video above, J. Caldwell reloaded the film back into an Instax Mini film back and then processed the film through a proper Instax Mini camera.

I didn't have one. Instead, I went back to the dark bathroom and edged the film, pod first through rollers from a Fuji PA-45 4x5 instant film film back.

I discovered it was easier to remove the rollers when trying to get the film through the rollers. It's quite tight.

 Also, I took a while to get even a passably well developed shot. I have yet to get an even spread of the developer across the whole of the film surface. I found it worked best with the rolling unique on my belly and I pushed the film towards me. Working the top roller with your thumb can help ease the development pack through (it must go in first!).

All of this was practice, however. What I really wanted was a pic of the twins. For that, I loaded a 4x5 film holder with two Instax Minis. I put the development pods at the bottom so that when I put the film holder in they would be at the top (where the bottom of the image would strike as cameras see things upside down and mirrored [?]). Anyhow, this is how I loaded it. Note, the exposed side IS NOT the picture side. The exposure side is the purple and grey part. But we look at the image from the white border side. Which I suppose, takes care of the whole mirroring problem.

Also note, Instax Mini are too small to use the runners at the top and bottom of a 4x5 film holder. I had to tape the film down and make sure the dark slide did not catch on either of the Minis.

I exposed the film, put back the dark slide, dashed  into the washroom and hand-developed the film, ie jammed them through the PA-45 rollers.

Here's how they turned out. Not perfect, I took it this morning and I have a print.

I have to get a better roller technique. I tried a typewriter this morning. No dice. The roller puts pressure but there's no bottom roller.

Next step will be Instax Wide once I figure out a good way to develop the film by hand.

If you want to see a video of Instax Mini being load into a sheet back...this is a good one.

Interesting discovery, you can expose Fuji Instax film from either side. I think the white side is FASTER and has an ISO of 1000 or 1200. Pure eyeball guessing. It will be a mirror image. My self-portrait (very top image) was exposed on the white side. I'm sure of it though the lettering is still mirrored. Oh well, I'll have to double check it all.

The dark grey/purple, which I think of as brown side (probably me holding onto negative process film paradigms), shoots at the actually rated ISO 800.


Oh, and here's the camera I used to make the picture of the boys, a Burke and James 4x5 Press Camera with a Rodenstock Ysarex 127mm f4.7 from a Polaroid 110a camera.


  1. Hi, Any luck finding a better way to develop by hand? I'm having a similar problem (except with a pinhole camera) and would prefer not to buy a instax camera for developing. I like the idea of keeping the project DIY. Thanks!

  2. Does this comment field work?

  3. Sorry about the delay in answering. I've tried to reply to comments in the past and they've glitched. But I think I found a work around.

    Anyhow, I've been getting back into this particular project especially since there are packets of monochrome wide at my local drug store.

    I'm looking at the rollers for the PA-45 Film Back. I could knock out the pins and drill new holes to have them closer together. That's actually the problem. They're not close enough together.

    But I'm on it again. I'll try to post with a solution soon. It's been too long. My best, and thanks for your question.

  4. Okay Darek .... this may work


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